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Tuesday, 29 May 1928


Mr LATHAM (Kooyong) (AttorneyGeneral [8.11]. - The suggestion of the honorable member for BoothbyMr. DuncanHughes) is that the clause be amended to provide that the maximum penalty of £1,000 shall be imposed only in the case of organizations and associations, and that individuals shall in no circumstances be liable to it. The proposal in the bill is that in the case of an employer or an organization, which means registered associations of employers or employees, the maximum penalty shall be £1,000, and that in the case of individual trade unionists or employees the maximum penalty shall be only £50.


Mr Watkins - Some individual employers are as big commercially as some corporations.


Mr LATHAM - The Government cannot accept the suggested amendment, because the maximum penalty must be regarded in relation to what may be described as the maximum offence. It is readily conceivable that lockouts may be caused by individual employers in respect of which the only adequate penalty would be the maximum fine. Such a case could not be met by the imposition of the relatively small fine of £50. Some employers employ hundreds of hands, and must be considered in that light. The introduction of the word " association " into the clause would add little to its value. All organizations which are registered associations are corporations, and as such are artificial legal persons, and are liable if their officers or certain other persons mentioned in section 8, as proposed to be amended, do certain things. This is specifically provided for in clause 8. An association is not a legal person, and it would be very difficult to impose penalties upon it, but the members of it who act illegally would be liable individually. It is in that way that provision is made to meet breaches of the law by associations.

The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) in some general remarks that he made on the subject of penalties showed that he did not draw a- proper distinction between the act and the bill.

He said that individuals who did not participate in a strike might be held liable for strike penalties. That is not the case.


Mr Theodore - They certainly would be held liable as members of organizations.


Mr LATHAM - Seeing that the discussion upon the clause turns upon the difference between an organization and an individual, I suggest that there was no foundation for the statement which the honorable member made. An organization is a corporation, just like a company, and a company is liable only for the acts of certain natural persons - ordinary human beings. If an organization is to be held liable at all, it must be merely for the action of certain identifiable human beings. These must be the officers or persons in control of it. Those are the persons referred to in clause 8. Their acts may make their organization liable, but there is no provision, either in the principal act or in the bill, which proposes to amend it, under which any individual person can be penalized for taking part in a strike unless it is proved that he participated in that strike.







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